I saw Andrew Bird (myspace) on Tuesday at the Fillmore. I’ve been enjoying Armchair Apocrypha and I liked his previous one as well, but I’d never seen him live, so I was excited for this, but I didn’t really know what to expect.
He came on stage with two other musicians (Martin Dosh, who records on the Bay Area’s own Anticon label, on keyboards and drums and Jeremy Ylvisaker on bass, guitar and perhaps baritone). Another interesting “player” was his Doppler effect gramophone-style speaker, which he turned on at certain parts of the show.
If you don’t know about AB’s (like me!) live performance style, it’s pretty impressive. He loops, usually, violin, and then plays guitar on top of that and sings. He also whistles and plays glockenspiel, sometimes both at once.
I don’t remember the song order, but pretty soon, he was into “Scythian Empires”, “Fiery Crash” and “Plasticities”. I knew it was a great show by this point. One clue was that things that annoyed me on the record (for instance, the doubled melody between the voice and electric piano on “Fiery Crash”) came across as nice or endearing in the live setting.
Oh and by this point, I also realized that a) Andrew Bird is really good and b) he was putting his energy into this show. It’s easy to say Andrew Bird is good. There are thousands of musicians that are “good” though, or were classically trained and I’ve always thought it’s silly to say a musician is good simply because he’s talented or skilled at his instrument. (You have to remember that before I went to any rock concerts, I’d seen Rostropovich, Marsalis and Ma so talent I’d seen.) Andrew Bird’s got something a lot more rare, though: he’s interesting. He walks a fine line; all at once he’s melodic, catchy, experimental, improvisational, high energy, and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve heard that the amount of improvisation/ experimentation he throws into his live show varies, but I don’t know what to compare it to, but it seemed that he had a good mix in this show.
The song selection was mostly from the last two albums, from what I could tell. For “Skin Is, My” he started four times; I like that he’s a bit of a perfectionist and tried the beginning three times before getting it right on the fourth.
The crowd threw up a huge cheer when he got into “Fake Palindromes” and that seemed to be the climax before the denouement of this story. In the end, I got a great and never boring set of almost all of my favorite songs plus some. It was a relatively long set (1.5+ hours), but I didn’t even notice the time passing. I recommend you see him while you can.
He’s on tour through early June. Tour dates at the very end.
May 4 2007 8:00P
The Crystal Ballroom Portland, Oregon
May 5 2007 8:00P
The Showbox Theater Seattle, Washington
May 6 2007 8:00P
Viking Union Multipurpose Room at Western Washington University Bellingham, Washington
May 11 2007 8:00P
First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 12 2007 8:00P
Herrick Chapel, Grinnell College Grinnell, Iowa
May 16 2007 8:00P
Berklee Performance Center at the Berklee College of Music Boston, Massachusetts
May 17 2007 8:00P
Webster Hall New York, New York
May 18 2007 8:00P
Theatre of the Living Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 20 2007 8:00P
930 Club Washington, Washington DC
May 22 2007 8:00P
May 23 2007 8:00P
May 24 2007 8:00P
May 26 2007 8:00P
Orange Blossom Special Beverungen
May 28 2007 8:00P
May 30 2007 8:00P
Teatro AcadÃ©mico Gil Vicente Coimbra
May 31 2007 8:00P
Cine-Teatro SÃ£o Jorge Lisbon
Jun 1 2007 8:00P
Theatro Circo Braga
Jun 4 2007 8:00P
La Cigale Paris
Jun 7 2007 8:00P
The Scala London